Prof. Ashoke Sen (MSC2/PHY/1978)

Prof. Ashoke Sen is an Indian theoretical physicist and distinguished professor at the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad. He has been with the institute for the last 17 years. He is also the Morningstar Visiting Professor at MIT and a distinguished professor at the Korea Institute for Advanced Study. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1975 from the Presidency College and completed his Master’s from the IIT Kanpur. He did his doctoral work in physics at Stony Brook University.


Prof. Sen served as the post-doctoral associate at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) from 1982 to 1985 and at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC) from 1985 to 1988. In 1988, he joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai as a Faculty of Physics and moved to the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad in 1997 where he is currently a Distinguished Professor.

Prof. Sen made a number of major original contributions to the subject of string theory, including his landmark paper on strong-weak coupling duality or S-duality, which was influential in changing the course of research in the field. He pioneered the study of unstable D-branes and made the famous Sen conjecture about open string tachyon condensation on such branes. His description of rolling tachyons has been influential in string cosmology. Another major contribution is the introduction of the entropy function formalism that helps to provide a statistical interpretation of Bekenstein-Hawking entropy of black holes in terms of the degeneracy count of microscopic states in String Theory. He introduced the Entropy Function Formalism that made it possible to link Bekenstein-Hawking entropy of black holes to the degeneracy count of states in the corresponding String Theory.

Prof. Sen’s current research interests are centered on the attractor mechanism and the precision counting of microstates of black holes. His main area of work is String Theory. He was among the first recipients of the Fundamental Physics Prize “for opening the path to the realization that all string theories are different limits of the same underlying theory”. This prize has been set up by the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner for rewarding scientific breakthroughs. He has also co-authored many important papers on string field theory.

Achievements and Honors


  • Dirac Medal, 2014.

  • Doctor of Literature (honorary) awarded by Jadavpur University, 2013.

  • Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) awarded by IIT Bombay, 2013.

  • M.P. Birla Memorial Award, 2013.

  • Padma Bhushan, Government of India, 2013.

  • Fundamental Physics Prize for his work on string theory, 2012.

  • Infosys Prize in the Mathematical Sciences, 2009.

  • Padma Shri, Government of India, 2001.

  • Fellow of the Royal Society, 1998.

  • Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, 1996.

  • S.S. Bhatnagar award, 1994.

  • Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, 1991.

  • ICTP Prize in 1989.



IIT Kanpur



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